Space News: Weird stars and meteorite secrets

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002

I've been collecting together quite a few small stories from the past week or so:

1. How a star blew-up - but didn't

Recognize the pic above? It's Eta Carinae, one of the most famous images of an exploding star. And yet, there is still a living star at the center of that. How did it survive?

By using light echoes, scientists have been able to gauge what happened - and truth is stranger than fiction: Astronomers uncover new clues to the star that wouldn't die

As the animation shows, three stars came to orbit each other, but at some point one ended up smashing into Eta Carinae, while the third was flung away into deep space:

2. How a star blew-up - and became younger

When a star explodes, it's supposed to leave a hot center in a cloud of cool gas. Except that HuBi1 has done the reverse and is a cool centre in a hot cloud. How? Because it only blew off its outer layers - leaving it looking younger: Explosive facelift left star looking much younger than its true age

3. Brown Dwarfs get weirder

Brown Dwarfs are either giant planets or failed stars - no one's quite sure how to categorize them. And answering that question going to become even less simple if the wonderfully-named SIMP J01365663+0933473 is anything to go by - a wandering rogue, alone in deep space, has a magnetic field 200 times stronger than Jupiter - and no one can figure out why: VLA detects possible extrasolar planetary-mass magnetic powerhouse

4. Space gets weirder

How fast is the universe expanding? Well, that's a problem - the Hubble Constant is at the center of this question, but no one knows exactly what it is.

Two sets of very accurate measurements both disagree with each other enough to make us question our assumptions about the universe: The universe's rate of expansion is in dispute – and we may need new physics to solve it

5. Meteorites reveal secrets

There are two stories about how meteorites are helping to unlock the secrets of the early solar system:

The first follows a none only the oldest-dated meteorite found, but also one of the most unusual - it may actually be a fragment of one of the first proto-planets: Researchers uncover remnants of early solar system (Update)

The other story reveals that more common - and younger - chondrite asteroids, that formed in the early solar system, carried the basic elements needed as building blocks for organic life - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulphur: Organic makeup of ancient meteorites sheds light on early Solar System.

6. Mini-meteors seen striking moon

Mini-meteorites normally burn up in the Earth's atmosphere - but recent observations caught a couple hitting the more exposed moon: Watch two meteorites hit the Moon

And here's the video:

7. Plate Tectonics - not necessary for life?

Previously arguments have been made that plate tectonics must be essential to life - not least because of the way it helps recycle minerals through the planetary crust. Not so says recent research: Plate tectonics not needed to sustain life.

8. Rosetta releases full image library

And last, but definitely not least...

Remember the Rosetta mission to visit a comet that ended up looking like a rubber ducky? Well, the European Space Agency (ESA) has now released it's full image library to the public: ESA Science & Technology: Rosetta image archive complete

And if you're too impatient to look, the ESA has released a video showing off some of the latest images together:

BONUS! Biology news:

Spiders see in green: What's a spider's favorite color? Study finds surprising answers

Tits show self-control: Great tits have as much impulse control as chimpanzees

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2018
Plate Tectonics - not necessary for life? That article was kind of sad in a way. I think it should have said that plate tectonics is necessary for carbon based life. It seems like the article is saying that they are only looking for carbon based life because that it is the only kind there is. I always thought plate tectonics was a disruptor of life. Seems more like one is living inside a washing machine set for running perpetual heavy duty wash cycles.

Our core might be the rare thing, the motor that keeps everything spinning from the surface on down to the magnetic field which extends far into space. The content of the core could be anything within a wide range of possibilities, which might be where the real chanciness of sustainable life comes into play. Plus the distance from the sun, type of sun, but even if everything is perfectly positioned, with a dud core, perhaps nothing ever happens. Unless life is found on sizable chunks of asteroids and other weird places, the active core could be implying that life is more of a mechanical after effect and not a simple biological mixture of opportune substances. Recycling motions are not restricted to the plates, the tides could also have a high impact on remixing the substances that ultimately produce life. So far, Earth is the only planet found with plate tectonics, but that might need higher resolution instruments to determine that fact. As far as the core goes, it would probably be quite a feat to guess the contents of another planet's core.

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2018
Space gets weirder Sometimes I wonder if there isn't anything remotely similar to what we are seeing in far out places in the universe. It would be even weirder if the light waves got tired out after a while and changed speed, or maybe lost something along the way so the speed could be maintained as an illusion. It might only appear to be traveling at the speed of light when observed at the endpoint. Or maybe some kind of momentum builds up and it ends up appearing to go faster to make it look like things are traveling away from us. Forgetting about resistance, supposedly an electric current flows by pushing an electron out the end of a wire for every electron that enters the wire. If there was interaction with the outside world, in a long enough wire, the electrons could speed up and slow down, maybe even reverse, and still keep the electrons popping out the end of the wire at a seemingly constant rate.

Al Jackson

Well-Known Member
Jul 28, 2018
You're right - I thought it used to be classed as one, but I've changed the wording to avoid confusion. :)

Such a cool name ... Carinae is the broken off keel of the boat Argo Navis (Ship Argo)....

η Car is a glorious chaos!


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